Smart paving scheme steps closer to reality

Intelligent street surface for Cheapside wins infrastructure award at A Smarter City competition

A smart paving scheme designed to breathe life into underused London streets has won the infrastructure category in the A Smarter City design competition.

A team led by design consultancy Momentum Transport and public realm landscape architect McGregor Coxall took top spot for a proposed intelligent street surface installation at the western end of Cheapside, near St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London.

The multi-functional, re-programmable space includes paving modules that generate power from footfall, incorporate LEDs that light up to define areas for specific uses of for light shows, and data and power plug in points for integrated street furniture.

The intention is to increase foot traffic in the City at weekends when most workers have gone home, with activities such as sports events, street markets or exhibitions. The street surface could also interact directly with pedestrians and motorists to provide directions and live localised news.

Dave Murphy, principal consultant at Momentum Transport Consultancy, told RIBAJ: ‘We wanted to address the issue of the City of London being very busy during peak times of the week, but very quiet at weekends, and design something able to accommodate both. The concept demonstrates that by using the different tiling surfaces streets can accommodate traffic at peak hours then switch functions at weekends when there is more need for entertainment and cultural uses.’

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According to Murphy, the idea takes inspiration from electricity generating tiles produced by the tech start-up Pavegen, which are used to power low-voltage off-grid applications such as street lights.

When people walk across it the weight from each footstep rotates a flywheel underneath the tile, creating energy through electromagnetic induction.

A Smarter City is run by the events and exhibitions space The City Centre, in partnership with the City of London Corporation and Brookfield.

Winners of the Smart Infrastructure category, Smart Building and Smart Green Spaces will go head to head in December when an overall winner will be selected and have its proposal implemented.

 All winning entries are currently on show at The City Centre at 80 Basinghall Street in East London, as part of the A Smarter City exhibition.

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